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4th Paris Peace Forum will address global health governance, COVID-19 pandemic recovery

The fourth edition of the Paris Peace Forum will take place from November 11 - 13, 2021, both in Paris and via virtual attendance, and will address COVID-19 recovery.

The forum will focus on improving the global governance of health, including pandemic preparedness and the One Health approach while considering the effects of the pandemic on civil society spaces and women’s rights. 

The Forum will follow the UN's COP26 climate talks and will feature new initiatives including governance of climate risks. 

Participants will include Kamala Harris, Vice President of the United States of America, Melinda French Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Marisol Touraine, Chair of the Executive Board of Unitaid, and Maria Ressa, 2021 Nobel Peace Prize winner, among others. 

Event Website - Paris Peace Forum

Team Europe to provide US$32 million in financing for health system development in Rwanda

The European Investment Bank (EIB) will provide a €22 million (US$26 million) loan, complemented by a €5 million (US$6 million) grant from the EU, for the Rwanda Biomedical Center to help the Rwandan National Health Laboratory develop its diagnostic, surveillance, and research capabilities. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) will partner with Rwanda to redevelop the National Health Laboratory, Rwanda's central health implementation agency in Kigali, which will result in enhanced medical diagnostic tools and research in the region. 

The €27 million (US$32 million) Team Europe investment in epidemic and pandemic preparedness in Rwanda was announced in Kigali at the Second African Union-European Union ministerial meeting. This funding is the largest EIB financing provided for health in East Africa.

Press release - European Investment Bank

South Korea joins Global Methane Pledge, increases 2022 ODA budget

South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced the country's plan to join the Global Methane Pledge, which aims to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030.

In addition, President Jae-in Moon declared that South Korea will increase its 2022 official development assistance (ODA) budget in his speech to the National Assembly on October 25, 2021, targeting the green, digital, and health sectors. The proposed budget increase brings total ODA from KRW3.6 trillion (US$3.3 billion) in 2021 to KRW4 trillion (US$3.7 billion) in 2022.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Korean)

Press release – Cheong Wa Dae (in Korean)

European Council leaders encourage Commission to reduce COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing barriers

During the conclusion of the European Council meeting, which took place from October 21 - 22, 2021, EU leaders called on the European Commission to engage with vaccine manufacturers to quickly remove obstacles impeding the global roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines; leaders hope to enable EU member states to rapidly deliver vaccines to countries most in need of assistance.

EU leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the global COVID-19 response and access to vaccines for all. They said the EU will continue to support both production and uptake of vaccines in EU partner countries.

Press release - European Council

UK ODA budget cuts will undermine long-term COVID-19 response, according to independent review

The UK's Independent Commission on Aid Impact (ICAI) published a new review concerning the UK government's use of its international development assistance to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

The review praises the UK government for its initial response to the pandemic, which resulted in the rapid allocation of £773 million (US$1.0 billion) in UK official development assistance (ODA) for COVID-19 response by mid-April 2020. This swift response made the UK one of the largest international donors in the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. The review highlights, that despite the lack of an official COVID-19 development assistance strategy, the UK government focused on three core strategic areas: 

  • providing direct support to the most affected low- and- middle-income countries (LMICs); 
  • supporting the development of vaccines, tests, and treatments; and, 
  • addressing the economic consequences of the pandemic.

However, the review argues that the government’s recent decision to reduce its ODA from 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) to 0.5% negatively impacted the UK government's ability to continue to effectively respond to the COVID-19 crisis. The review found, for example, that many ODA programs linked to addressing the pandemic were impacted by large budget cuts. The review cites the significant reduction in key sexual and reproductive health investments as examples of detrimental cuts; previous global health crises have established the importance of maintaining women's access to sexual health, making program cuts in these areas more concerning. 

The report made three recommendations to the UK government moving forward:

  1. Build upon investments in vaccine development to increase supply and equitable roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines to address continuing inequitable global vaccine access;
  2. Ensure that program leaders are given the discretion to adapt and repurpose programs to address the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling an efficient and effective response; and,
  3. Review the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office's (FCDO) strategy to repatriate staff during crises to enable a more refined approach based on risk and individual preference. This recommendation was made following the UK's blanket approach to repatriating staff, which contrasts the selective approaches adopted by other donors.

Report - ICAI

Netherlands short of COVID-19 vaccine donation commitments to COVAX, according to NGOs

Oxfam Novib reports that pharmaceutical companies and high-income countries, including the Netherlands, are supplying far fewer COVID-19 vaccines to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) than promised based on an inventory performed by a worldwide coalition of NGOs.

Only 260 million of the 1.8 billion doses promised have been delivered - 14 percent. The report reiterated that the Netherlands has committed to supplying 27 million vaccine doses to COVAX, the World Health Organization's global vaccine initiative, but the total donated thus far is less than 500,000 doses.

The Ministry of Health replied to the criticisms, noting that it understands Oxfam Novib's call for expediency and expects to meet its pledge of 27 million vaccines by the end of 2021. The Ministry expects to donate an additional 10 million doses to COVAX at the end of the year. 

News Article - NOS (in Dutch)

NGOs call on Canada to fulfill COVID-19 vaccine donation promises, suspend intellectual property rights

Canada has taken over 970,000 doses from COVAX, the World Health Organization's vaccine alliance, for its own use, while delivering only 3.2 million – or 8% – of the 40 million doses it promised.

The US has delivered the largest quantity of donated doses - nearly 177 million - and yet, this number is merely 16% of the 1.1 billion promised. Meanwhile, the EU and countries including Germany and the UK, have refused to support the proposal by over 100 nations to waive patents on vaccines and COVID-19 - related technologies.

Preceding the G20 summit in Rome this week, the People’s Vaccine alliance – which consists of 77 members including ActionAid, the African Alliance, Oxfam, and UNAIDS – is calling on rich countries to:

  • Deliver on promises to donate COVID-19 vaccines to low-income countries;
  • Immediately redistribute existing vaccines equitably across all nations; and,
  • Suspend intellectual property rights for COVID vaccines, tests, and treatments by agreeing to the proposed waiver of the TRIPS Agreement at the World Trade Organization.

​​​​Op-ed - Oxfam Canada 

US Senate Appropriations Committee approves 2022 foreign assistance bill totaling US$60.6 billion

The United States Senate Appropriations Committee approved the State-Foreign Operations Appropriations (SFOPS) bill for the fiscal year 2022 (FY2022), providing a total of US$60.6 billion for US foreign assistance. The budget represents a nine percent increase from FY2021 non-emergency enacted levels but remains slightly lower than both the bill passed by the US House of Representatives and the Biden Administration's FY2022 budget request. 

Highlights from SFOPS for FY2022:

  • Global health programs increased by US$1.2 billion over FY2021 enacted levels - three percent less than the House of Representatives-passed companion measure. Global health security programs will receive an additional US$810 million in funding with a focus on COVID-19 and future pandemic response; 
  • Climate change funding received a total of US$2.9 billion, including US$1.5 billion for the Green Climate Fund, US$1.0 billion for bilateral climate programs, and US$450 million for the Clean Technology Fund. Climate funding from the Senate exceeded the Administration's FY2022 request by 14%;
  • Development Assistance and Economic Support Funds - the two main bilateral development funding sources - received budget increases of 16% and 10%, respectively, over FY2021 enacted levels. Other programs, such as the Peace Corps and the Millennium Challenge Corporation, remained equivalent to FY2021 enacted levels; and
  • Personnel funding for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) increased in the hopes that the agency will do more to fill workplace gaps to address the increased frequency and intensity of humanitarian crises.

State- Foreign Operations Appropriations FY2022 - US Senate Appropriations Committee

News report - USGLC

Each US$1.3 billion in UK recycled IMF Special Drawing Rights to LMICs will result in US$416 million net loss, says Center for Global Development

The Center for Global Development (CGD), a leading international development think-tank, published a new report criticizing the UK’s proposal to count some of its recycled International Monetary Fund (IMF) Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) as official development assistance (ODA).

CGD calculated that for every £1.0 billion (US$1.3 billion) of SDRs that the UK recycles, low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) will experience a £310 million (US$416 million) net loss in development assistance. The UK will count 31% of its recycled SDRs as part of its commitment to reach 0.5% of gross national income (GNI) as ODA, reducing resources from the UK ODA budget that are available to LMICs. CGD has described the UK’s decision to count its recycled SDRs as ODA as "giving with one hand while taking with the other."

Other donor countries that have also decided to recycle their SDRs to LMICs have chosen not to count them as ODA; this decision will ensure that the full amount of SDRs is available to target countries in addition to planned ODA budgets.

The report is heavily critical of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) rules which enable the UK to count IMF lending, via its Poverty, Growth and Reduction Trust, as ODA, arguing that rules do not appropriately reflect the low-level risk of the loans.

The report recommends that:

  • In the short term, the new UK Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, push the UK Treasury to ensure all of its recycled SDRs are additional to the UK’s 0.5% of GNI ODA budget. If this is not possible, the report recommends that the IMF actively draw on other countries' flows that are not counted as ODA; the funding only counts as ODA when it is drawn down by the IMF and released to countries. It is not counted as ODA when it is merely committed.
  • In the long-term, if a new fund at the IMF is used to channel the additional SDRs to LMICs, it should ensure that any funding that is counted as reserves and subsides by other donors should not be counted as ODA.

Report – Center for Global Development

Canada's Justin Trudeau announces selection date for Minister of International Development

Following the Canadian federal election on September 20th, 2021, re-elected Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced that the Cabinet swearing-in ceremony will take place on October 26, 2021, and that Parliament will return on November 22, 2021.

The Cabinet selection will include a new, or reinstated, Minister of International Development who will set priorities for Canada’s international development portfolio. The resumption of Parliament will be accompanied by a Throne Speech, which will outline the government’s plans to tackle international development issues such as COVID-19 recovery, climate action, gender equality, and humanitarian crises.

Press release - Prime Minister of Canada

UK government calls on World Bank to support strong, sustainable, inclusive economic growth

The UK government called upon the World Bank Group to do more to support strong, sustainable, and inclusive growth in low- and middle-income countries.

In its statement to the 104th Meeting of the World Bank Group’s Development Committee on October 15, 2021, the UK government identified six key policy areas for action: economic development, infrastructure and financial development assistance, gender equity, pandemic response, climate change, and crisis response. 

The UK government also called upon the World Bank to ensure its International Development Association (IDA) – the low-income country financing window within the Bank - makes better use of its balance sheet to meet IDA countries' financing needs.

The UK government specifically called for World Bank Group to:

  • Trade: Strengthen supply chains, improve low-and middle-income countries' (LMICs) capacity to meet global standards, and mobilize greater investment in most-vulnerable countries;
  • Build Back Better: Work with additional multilateral development banks to provide financing at scale for target countries’ national climate, development, and poverty plans;
  • Gender equality: Help LMICs achieve 40 million more girls in school by 2026 and increase access to social protection systems that help women. The UK also called upon the World Bank to do more to address gender-based violence in its programs.
  • COVID-19: Implement its US$20.0 billion COVID-19 support package and enhance co-operation with the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Initiative, COVAX, and the African Union’s Africa Vaccine Acquisition Trust to enable equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, and tests.
  • Climate and Nature: Develop a plan to mobilize greater amounts of private climate finance, work with additional multilateral development banks to mainstream nature into all operations, and develop a new methodology to track and report on nature financing; and
  • Crisis preparedness: Improve LMICs' pandemic and crisis preparedness by providing more flexible financing and increasing investment.

The UK also called upon the World Bank to ensure its IDA 20 replenishment process makes better use of the IDA’s existing balance sheet to address the financing needs of partner countries. The UK indicates financing should be provided in ways that enable the IDA to scale up its financing capacity while protecting financial sustainability.

Press release - UK Government

South Korean development agency announces new strategy for 2021-2025

Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), a major South Korean grant assistance agency, announced its mid-term sectoral strategy for 2021-2025.

The published document includes strategic objectives and programs in the following sectors: education, health, governance and peace, agriculture and rural development, water, energy, transportation, urban development, science, technology and innovation (STI), climate action, gender equality, and human rights.

In the case of the health sector, KOICA will continue to focus on maternal, child, and reproductive health, mirroring key targets in the previous strategy for 2016-2020. In addition, the new measures will aim to improve health security and strengthen the digital health capacity of partner countries.

Website – Korea International Cooperation Agency (in Korean)

Abridged report - Korea International Cooperation Agency

Spain renews Partnership Agreement Framework 2021-2024 with Mozambique

In a public event held at the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation's (AECID) headquarters on October 15, 2021, the Spanish State Secretary for International Cooperation, Pilar Cancela, announced the approval of the Partnership Agreement Framework (MAP) 2021-2024 between Spain and Mozambique.

With an overall budget of €47 million (US$55 million) over the 3-year period, the partnership agreement outlines Spain’s development priorities and bilateral assistance allocations in Mozambique. Spain will prioritize the promotion of health services, democratic governance, and humanitarian assistance in the country among other programs. All development cooperation interventions will be implemented under principles of gender equality, women's rights, human rights, and climate change. 

Press release – MAUC (in Spanish)

Australia ceases domestic AstraZeneca vaccine production, reducing regional assistance options

Australia’s Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, indicated that Australia will not renew its contract with CSL to produce more than the originally promised 51 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. 

CSL is expected to cease production of AstraZeneca in its Australian factory in early 2022. At present, the factory produces one million doses per week and up to 800,000 of weekly doses are provided to assist vaccine rollouts in Southeast Asia and the Pacific region. 

Spokesperson for the End COVID For All Campaign, Tim Costello, called for the Australian government to strengthen domestic production capability to produce up to 100 million vaccines which should be provided at cost to Southeast Asia and the Pacific region.

In the meantime, over one million unused AstraZeneca doses are being collected from Australian facilities and pharmacies for use by partner countries in the region.

News article - ABC News

News article - Sydney Morning Herald

Members of European Parliament suggest US$235 million top-up to Health Cluster budget with surplus funding

Budget Committee Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) agreed that half of the unused funding from Horizon 2020, the 2014-2020 EU research program, should be allocated to health research in the current program for 2021-2027, Horizon Europe, giving the Health Cluster budget a €200 million (US$235 million) boost.

The MEPs said the funding should be used for health research in response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. The Health Cluster top-up proposal makes up part of the Parliament’s position on the 2022 EU budget. Parliament will vote on the overall annual budget position on October 20, 2021, after which MEPs will begin negotiations with member states in the Council of the EU.

News article - Science|Business

EU commits US$1.2 billion in emergent humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan

The European Commission announced a €1.0 billion (US$1.2 billion) humanitarian assistance package for Afghanistan, which will include €250 million (US$294 million) for “humanitarian plus” support for local Afghan populations with urgent needs, particularly in the health sector.

The “humanitarian plus” support will be funded by the EU’s Neighborhood, Development, and International Cooperation Instrument - Global Europe (NDICI - Global Europe) and will be channeled to international organizations working in-country.

Press release - European Commission

South Korea begins COVID-19 vaccine donation campaign with Vietnam and Thailand

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of South Korea announced that it will donate COVID-19 vaccines for the first time to its partner countries, beginning with Vietnam and Thailand.

In particular, 1.1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be provided to Vietnam. Both Vietnam and Thailand are key partner countries in South Korea’s New Southern Policy. While South Korea has provided humanitarian assistance and official development assistance (ODA) for COVID-19 response to its partner countries, it has not previously donated vaccines, signaling a shift in its global health policy and pandemic response.  

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Korean)

Norway to hit 1.01% GNI ODA target in 2022 budget, double climate finance by 2025

The Norwegian government's overarching development policy strategy is to promote sustainable economic development and welfare in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and contribute to combating poverty. The proposed 2022 government budget includes a record-breaking development assistance budget of NOK41.9 billion (US$ 4.7 billion), corresponding to 1.01% of gross national income (GNI). 

The government wishes to continue its focus on the fight against infectious diseases and support for maternal, child, and adolescent health. Efforts to remedy non-communicable diseases, such as mental health, cardiovascular disease, and cancer are also priorities. 

The government emphasizes combating climate change and supporting climate adaptation to prevent natural disasters in its strategy. Increased efforts against hunger, including an increased focus on food from the sea to ensure global food security, are an important part of climate adaptation and COVID-19 response work.

The government proposes NOK8.2 billion (US$ 926 million) for climate measures through the development assistance budget, which includes both climate and forestry programs. With this increase, Norway is on track to double its climate assistance by 2025. 

The government also proposes strengthened development assistance through civil society organizations in the 2022 budget. 

Press release – Norwegian Government (in Norwegian)  

Norway increases humanitarian assistance budget by US$45 million to meet rising sector concerns; total assistance rises to US$734 million

The UN Emergency Aid appeal for 2021 estimates that more than 235 million people need humanitarian assistance and protection, an increase of 40% from 2020. The Norwegian government, therefore, proposes an increase of NOK400 million (US$45 million) for emergency and humanitarian assistance in 2022, totaling NOK5.2 billion (US$587 million).

In addition to the additional funding, the World Food Program (WFP) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will receive NOK1.35 billion (US$ 152 million). In total, the proposed assistance budget for 2022 is a record-breaking NOK6.5 billion (US$734 million). With the proposed increase, the Norwegian humanitarian budget has doubled since 2013.  

Press release – Norwegian Government (in Norwegian) 

G20 leaders commit to ensuring humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan

At the G20 extraordinary meeting on Afghanistan, the G20 head of states committed to supporting humanitarian assistance in the country, focusing primarily on vulnerable groups, such as women, children, and people with disabilities.

The G20 leaders called upon leaders to find solutions to maintain essential services; in particular, they desire for strengthened education and health sectors. Furthermore, the leaders flagged the importance of a functioning payment system and overall financial stability in the region. The G20 leaders committed to cooperate with international organizations, international financial institutions, including multilateral development banks, and humanitarian actors in the field. The G20 countries invite the World Bank to explore possible ways to redirect support to international agencies for humanitarian efforts.

Finally, the G20 leaders emphasize the importance of ensuring a rapid vaccination campaign and fully administering previously donated vaccines via COVAX and stand ready to provide more.

Chair summary - G20 website